Beautiful pastoral landscapes, quaint country churches, and Amish farmers working the fields may come to mind when you think of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. But there’s so much more to this beguiling town than meets the eye. From history and culture to art and creativity, there’s a wealth of things to do in Lancaster, PA.
For any trip to The Keystone State, a visit to the enchanting Pennsylvania Dutch Country is a must. Among the top tourist attractions in Lancaster, PA, you can experience the intriguing lifestyle of the Amish people at a traditional Amish Village, catch dinner and a show at the historic Fulton Theater, or make your own ice cream at the Turkey Hill Experience.
Too many adventures to choose from? Plan your trip with this complete guide to the best places to visit in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Best places to visit in Lancaster, PA
The Amish Farm and House
Kick off your Lancaster County trip with a visit to The Amish Farm and House to get an in-depth understanding of the Amish community and their unique way of life. At the once working farm, now heritage museum, you can enjoy guided farmhouse tours that’ll take you into the life of the Amish.
Explore the one-room schoolhouse and take in some of the school’s art; take a ride in a traditional horse buggy and chat with local artisans. Visit the farm’s resident animals, where the kids can help feed the chickens or shear sheep. Don’t miss the opportunity to test-drive an Amish scooter!
If you want to explore further afield, hop on the Countryside Bus Tour, which ventures deeper into the scenic farmlands and visit a couple of Amish businesses. Be sure to take your camera as the panoramic views of the Amish countryside are spectacular!
Spend the day having some fun in the sun with the family at Dutch Wonderland. This huge amusement park just east of Lancaster is packed with exhilarating attractions, from family-friendly rides and water slides to train rides around the park, live shows, and meeting favorite fairytale characters.
Themed as a ‘Kingdom for Kids,’ the entire Dutch Wonderland park is geared toward families with small children, with something for everyone. Hop on the Wonderland Train and explore the park; take an exhilarating, high-flying adventure on Merlin’s Mayhem; head back to the time of the dinosaurs at the Prehistoric Path on Exploration Island, or venture into the Dragon’s Lair.
Be sure to spend a few nights at the Cartoon Network Hotel, where the rooms are themed to some of the best Cartoon Network shows – the kids will love it!
Pierce into the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country and the home of the Amish to enjoy an up-close look at this fascinating community and its way of life at the Amish Village. Spread over 12 acres of beautifully maintained pastoral land, this family-owned business offers an intimate perspective into the life of the Amish through guided tours.
At the Amish Village, you can choose from three Amish Experience tours. All the tours explore the farm, local shops, and businesses run by the Amish, the one-room schoolhouse, and the surrounding landscapes. The tours aim to give you a deeper understanding of the culture and history of the Amish and their traditions.
Pack a picnic basket to enjoy lunch on the picnic grounds on the farm after you have finished exploring.
Lancaster Central Market
Get a real feel for Lancaster and her locals by wandering around the Lancaster Central Market. Established in 1730, the market is the oldest, continuously running public farmers’ market in the country. And it’s still going strong!
Based in the beautifully preserved Market House on Penn Square in Downtown Lancaster, the Lancaster Central Market is open to the public on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It’s home to 60 vendors selling an amazing array of fresh produce, locally sourced meat, handmade cheeses, and mouthwatering prepared foods.
Head to the market early (it opens at 7 am), grab a freshly brewed coffee and stroll around the stalls. They’re packed with brightly colored fruit and vegetables, aromatic cheeses, farm-raised meats, fresh eggs, and deliciously prepared dishes and baked goods. You’re bound to find a tasty treat for lunch!
A wonderful way to spend the day with the family is to head to Long’s Park. Located in the northwest corner of Lancaster, Long’s Park is spread over 80 acres. Here, you’ll find all sorts of family-friendly facilities, from several playgrounds for children of various ages to a popular petting farm.
Walk or jog along the fitness trail, encircling a tranquil three-acre, spring-fed lake dotted with water birds, or enjoy a game of tennis on one of the courts in the park. There are plenty of picnic pavilions; don’t forget to pack a picnic basket for lunch.
Long’s Park also hosts an array of activities throughout the summer, such as a nationally acclaimed fine art & craft festival and a free summer-long music series that sees the park come alive with the sounds of local musicians.
Hands-on House, Children’s Museum of Lancaster
If you need to entertain the kids for the day, the Hands-on House, Children’s Museum of Lancaster is a great option. Designed for children between the ages of two and 10, the museum is education-centric. It delivers a host of interactive and immersive exhibits that encourage children to learn through play.
Kids can learn how air flows, how fruit grows, and how to use tools and robots to work at the museum’s fantastic exhibits.
Sign the little ones up for art classes at the Clubhouse Art Studio. They’ll learn a range of art skills and techniques across various mediums, from painting to ceramics.
Lancaster Science Factory
Rainy days are ideal for exploring museums, and the Lancaster Science Factory is a great way to spend a few hours with the family.
This interactive science museum is home to a variety of fascinating STEM-based exhibits. They’ll challenge children’s minds with a focus on math, chemistry, engineering, electricity, robotics, and motion. The kids can spend hours having fun with acoustics, electricity, engineering, magnetism, puzzles, and more.
You could also sign the kids up for some of the Lancaster Science Factory’s STEM educational programs and workshops. The museum also offers various field trips, hands-on classes, and summer STEM camps if you’re spending some time in the city.
Kitchen Kettle Village
The Kitchen Kettle Village is the perfect place for a day of browsing, shopping, and dining on delicious Pennsylvania Dutch Country fare. You’ll find a great combination of shops at the Village, ranging from local art and pottery, beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch quilts, and homemade jams and relishes to well-known brand stores like Minnetonka, PANDORA Jewelry, UGG, and Brighton.
Take a break from shopping and grab a bite at the Harvest Café, where you’ll find a menu of classic breakfast and lunch plates. They’re all made from fresh ingredients, featuring delicious handmade relishes, pickles, and other accompaniments from the Village’s Jam & Relish Café.
The Village also offers the option of staying overnight at the Inn in Kitchen Kettle Village. Nestled in the heart of the Kitchen Kettle Village, the inn has 18 gorgeous guest rooms and suites. They offer guests all the bells and whistles and easy access to the cafés, restaurants, and shops of the Village.
Catch dinner and a show and soak up Lancaster’s rich history at the Fulton Theatre, one of the oldest working theatres in the United States.
The Fulton Theatre, also known as the Fulton Opera House, is based in a beautifully restored 165-year-old Victorian building in downtown Lancaster. Even if you don’t attend a show here, a visit just to see the magnificent architecture of this designated National Historic Landmark is well worth it!
Regarded as Central Pennsylvania’s premier regional theatre, the Fulton Theater produces a host of performances. You’ll enjoy everything from comedies and dramas to musicals that are on par with Broadway; if you’re a theater-lover, getting tickets to one is a must!
Lancaster Brewing Company
Head to the Lancaster Brewing Company for a frosty and taste some of the county’s best local brews. Boasting a rich and vivid brewing history dating back to the 1700s, Lancaster County is famous for its high-quality ales and lagers. You can practically taste the fresh air, pure water, and loamy farmlands of Pennsylvania in the brews!
Pop into the tap room at the Lancaster Brewing Company from Wednesday through Sunday. Taste some of the brewery’s finest tipples, including IPA, Amber Lager, Milk Stout, Weissbier, Pumpkin Ale, and Wheat beers. Grab a bite at the brewery’s restaurant. Choose from its comprehensive menu, featuring everything from meatloaf to steak and chips.
Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum
Discover the rich German heritage in Pennsylvania at the Landis Valley Village & Farm Museum. At the open-air museum, you can enjoy guided tours, take horse-wagon rides, taste traditional Pennsylvania Dutch foods, and learn how to dance.
The Landis Valley Village is dedicated to the culture and history of Pennsylvania’s rural German community. The living history museum is the largest of its kind in the country. It’s designed to reflect an 18th- and 19th-century village, complete with historic buildings, working crops and gardens, and a vast collection of Pennsylvania German artifacts.
Roam around the village and farms of Landis Valley. Learn about the rich history of the Pennsylvania Germans who called Lancaster County home. Enjoy costumed demonstrations and docent-led tours of the buildings. You can even taste traditional Pennsylvania German cuisine and learn how to dance at a historic dancing workshop!
End your outing with a visit to the shop. Here, you can pick up souvenirs, books, locally handcrafted arts & crafts, and unique gifts.
Strasburg Rail Road
History buffs and train-lovers will delight in the Strasburg Rail Road, America’s oldest operating railroad. The historic railroad sits in the charming town of Strasburg in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. It attracts visitors from all over the country to enjoy an authentic steam railroad experience.
Hop on the beautifully preserved steam train to enjoy a relaxing 45-minute ride through Lancaster County’s picturesque countryside. You can choose to go Presidential, First-Class, Coach, or in the Open-Air Cars. Each offers a unique and unforgettable experience in a glorious setting.
When you arrive back at the station, check out the pump cars, go on a shop tour, or take the kids on the Rail Road’s Pint-Sized Pufferbelly and Cranky Cars. The Strasburg Rail Road also hosts a variety of fun events throughout the year. Try to time your visit with events like the Easter Bunny Train, a Wine & Cheese Train, a Day Out With Thomas, and Santa’s Paradise Express.
The Demuth Museum
Celebrate the works of local Lancastrian artist and pioneer of the Precisionist style, Charles Demuth, with a visit to the Demuth Museum. Once the home and studio of the master watercolorist, the museum on East King Street showcases the Early Modern artist’s works.
At the Demuth Museum, you can see over 40 original works by Demuth. The museum also hosts works by Demuth’s close contemporaries like Lyonel Feininger and Alfred H. Maurer.
Built in c. 1820, the house in which the museum is based forms part of the Lancaster Historic District and offers a unique perspective of Demuth’s artistic life. Explore the artist’s legacy by wandering through the museum and taking in the fascinating collections and exhibitions of his works.
When you’re done, head out into the beautifully manicured Victorian gardens. The gardens are filled with flowers once cultivated by the artist’s mother. Many of the blooms were featured in Demuth’s most famous floral works.
Turkey Hill Experience
Are you a lover of ice cream and all things creamy? Then the Turkey Hill Experience is a must for your Lancaster, PA, trip! Nestled in the Susquehanna River Valley in western Lancaster County, the Turkey Hill Dairy is one of the most popular attractions in Lancaster. And for good reason—it’s all about ice cream!
The Turkey Hill Experience allows you to learn about the culture and history of the Susquehanna River Valley and how the region was shaped over time. You’ll learn the story of Turkey Hill Dairy and its delicious ice cream – how the flavors are selected and how it is made. Best of all, you’ll get the chance to become an ice cream maker for a day and create your very own virtual flavor of the creamy treat!
Other fun things to do on the farm include milking mechanical cows, sitting in a vintage milk truck, starring in a Turkey Hill commercial, and of course, sampling plenty of ice cream.
Lancaster County Central Park
Beautiful Pennsylvania days call for getting out and about. Lancaster County Central Park is a great spot to spend the day with the family, enjoying the sunshine. Nestled in the West Lampeter Township on the southern edge of Lancaster, the vast park spans 544 acres and is packed with an array of recreational facilities and amenities.
The large swimming pool at Lancaster County Central Park is perfect for cooling off on hot summer days. Its free skate park is open all year round for all levels of skaters, from beginners to advanced.
Take a relaxing stroll around the Garden of Five Senses. Marvel at the wide variety of fragrant flowering plants, shady trees, and tinkling water fountains.
If you prefer something more active, Lancaster County Central Park has plenty of trails for hiking, jogging, mountain biking, and horseback riding that wind their way through the park’s woods and fields.
There’s also an Environmental Center that offers environmental and outdoor education programs to the public. Be sure to also check out the Shuts Environmental Library, where you can borrow books and videos with a focus on the environment.
Dutch Haven Shoo-Fly Pie Bakery
A visit to Pennsylvania Dutch Country wouldn’t be complete without tucking into an old-fashioned Shoo-Fly pie from the Dutch Haven Shoo-Fly Pie Bakery. Located east of Lancaster on Route 30, the 76-year-old bakery is famous for making America’s best Shoo-Fly Pie. They still make these deliciously sweet treats from the original recipe!
The enchanting little bakery not only makes mouthwatering treats; it’s also the largest Amish souvenir store in the county. Here, you’ll find a wonderful selection of handmade arts and crafts, furniture, gifts, souvenirs, and other treasures.
Not able to make it to the funky bakery beneath the windmill? You can order these famous pies online or send them to friends and family as gifts.
Historic Rock Ford
One of the best things to do in Lancaster, PA, is to soak up some more of the city’s rich history at Historic Rock Ford. Also known as the General Edward Hand House, this historic house is located in southeastern Lancaster. It’s famous for being the former home of Edward Hand, the Adjutant General to George Washington during the American Revolution.
Take a guided tour of the 18th-century Hand Mansion and the exquisitely manicured 33-acre estate. It’ll help you gain a deeper insight and understanding of the life and times of the general, his family, and the free servants and laborers that called the plantation home.
Stroll around the elegantly furnished rooms to get a sense of what life was like in Early America. Afterward, head to the John J. Snyder, Jr. Gallery of Early Lancaster County Decorative Arts to take in some artwork. End your visit with a gentle meander around the peaceful gardens and grounds of the estate.